Show Review

Aunteater and Jason Lescalleet @ Happy Dog Euclid Tavern 6/16

Nick Lotz
Noise is a term used often to describe things that sound bad. So, usually, when applied towards music, it would lead the listener to believe that the music is...well, bad. Noise (genre) is music that embraces this ideology, taking what most would consider being the musical equivalent of nails scratching on a chalkboard and somehow blending these ambient, esoteric sounds together to make something that isn’t really an enjoyable or melodic experience so much as just the latter: an experience; a cerebral, thought provoking, and somewhat disturbing experience but an experience that every music nerd deserves to partake in at least once.

 About two weeks ago, I had the privilege of seeing two acts that are apparently kind of a big deal in the noise scene, and definitely a big deal in the Cleveland noise scene. The first, an ensemble that goes by the name of Aunteater, and the second, an old bearded guy who must only moonlight as a musician and is actually a wizard from the Harry Potter universe...just kidding. The second is none other than Jason Lescalleet, who is apparently somewhat of a pioneer in the genre, although as he told me, “...I don’t really consider my music ‘noise.’”

According to the ever reliable and definitely not easily accessible to plagiarists site known as Wikipedia, noise began as a movement associated with the surrealist Dada artists in the early 1900’s (so, yes, that pretentious hipster rides the old timey bicycle with the one big wheel in front, has a large beard and smokes out of a wooden pipe...well, it turns out there is some validity to his assemblage). Noise nowadays is mostly categorized under industrial music, which is a genre that incorporates everything from Nine Inch Nails to Combichrist to people playing the head of a saxophone with a broken reed while their friend bangs on a synthesizer like he’s having a seizure (which I actually saw happen).

The idea of a noise show isn’t so much about melody: it’s about experimentation, about stripping music of its aural aesthetics and displaying it as something raw and different and singular. The performance is secondary to the experience, with almost zero emphasis placed on the actual musicians or the music. The headspace of the venue is given to the expanded consciousness of the crowd. As in, for some strange reason, it’s actually easier to have a decent conversation and probe into the depths of each others’ intellect when the music is designed to be a background. Which is not only not attention grabbing, but in fact curated to be the opposite.

            Or, according to Lescalleet:
"What I try and do is create an atmosphere where the audience can receive a visceral experience."
Aunteater’s show was very emotional in an uplifting kind of way. That is surprising considering the experimental nature of the music. There's a flute, some driving synth's a lot more melodic than the band before it (which the man sitting next to me at the bar explained was a noise band that was more melodic than most noise bands). It almost sounds like the soundtrack to Run Lola Run, slowly building and building into (surprisingly) some classical riffs on the flute that speaks through the driving drums and keyboard (which is a bit hard to hear). Despite its ambient nature, there is clearly musical talent present.

Lescalleet’s...well, I didn’t take any notes during his show . . . because I was too busy soaking it in. It reminded me of a classical symphony: one long song that builds and builds to a climactic and orchestral finale. But if you really want to experience the noise genre, then go check it out yourself. As I said before, it’s an experience that everyone should engage himself or herself in at least once. For more information on Jason Lescalleet, check out his site  and for more information on Aunteater, check out their site.